Dec. 19, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A brave volunteer from a soup kitchen in Forest Hills received a city commendation yesterday for her role in stopping an attack on a Jewish teenager late last month.
Waleska Mendez, who volunteers at the Masbia Soup Kitchen at 105-47 64th Rd., was presented with the commendation by Comptroller Scott Stringer after she intervened and stopped a group attack on a 16-year-old Bukharian teen just outside the kitchen on Nov. 29.
The brutal attack happened at around 5 p.m. on that day, according to police, with Mendez and others noting that there were around 20 teenagers on David Paltielov, a student from a local yeshiva.
Paltielov suffered injuries including lip lacerations, contusions and bruising to the body, and was rushed to Elmhurst hospital in an attack that made headlines and, coupled with other area incidents involving Jewish teens, led to an emergency meeting between police and Jewish community groups earlier this month.
The 16-year-old, however, might have been spared from worse, with Mendez now credited for possibly saving Paltielov’s life.
Mendez, a resident of Queens for 28 years, said she heard commotion outside the soup kitchen and ran outside only to see the massive attack taking place.
Her screams, at first, didn’t do much to disperse the crowd, so she went back inside the kitchen and reached for the closest item that can send a message—a broom.
“I got the broom and I started screaming, ‘Just leave him alone,’” she said. “And they just started running away.”
The method worked, but some came back to the scene almost immediately to take photos of the 16-year-old victim, who Mendez said was shaking on the ground.
“I started screaming to them as well because they didn’t do anything to help the kid,” she said.
One of the onlookers then lurched toward Mendez in an attempt to apparently threaten her, but the soup kitchen volunteer stood her ground.
“I said, ‘You want to fight? Let’s fight,’” Mendez told the teen.
Mendez, who has children of her own, said the decision to go out and confront the group was instant.
“Somebody had to stop them because that kid can be dead right now,” she said. “Because when you see 20 people against one, what do you think can happen?”
Stringer said Mendez is a “true New York City hero.”
“I’m proud to issue her a commendation from the City today to recognize her commitment to the Forest Hills community,” he said. “New York City is a better place because of people like her.”
The late November attack resulted in the arrests of a 17 and 18 year old on Dec. 6, who were charged with assault and gang assault. They were not issued hate crime charges.